Scientists aim to solve 'male-killing' evolutionary puzzle in insects

phys.org | 6/15/2016 | Staff
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Researchers at the University of Liverpool are leading a new international project to investigate the curious phenomenon of 'male-killing' microbes in insects.

Many insect species carry microbes within their reproductive cells. Importantly, these microbes can only be passed down to offspring through the maternal line. Males are therefore seen as a 'reproductive dead-end' by the microbes, who have evolved to kill them off. Natural selection, of course, promotes mutations in insects that rescue these males and some insects, such as species of lacewing and butterfly, can evolve quickly to do so.

Collaboration - National - Agriculture - Food - Research

In collaboration with the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization in Japan, Professor Greg Hurst and Professor Steve Paterson from the University's Institute of Integrative Biology have been awarded £440,000 through UK Research and Innovation's (UKRI) Fund for International Collaboration to investigate the genetics and evolutionary dynamics of male-killer suppression in the lacewing Mallada desjardinsi with Dr. Daisuke Kageyama from the Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, National Agriculture and Food Research Organisation, Japan.

Principal investigator, Professor Hurst explains: "Evolution has historically been thought of as a slow process, happening over geological time periods. However, we now know that contemporary evolution can, in fact, be very fast, with new genetic...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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